Iraq: The challenge of COVID‑19
Iraq is one of the Middle Eastern countries hardest hit by the COVID‑19 pandemic. This also affects the support for Iraqi security forces from the Coalition and NATO: preventive measures against coronavirus mean that support has in some cases been reduced or, as in the case of training activities, interrupted. IS has exploited this situation, stepping up its attacks again in recent months. The Foreign Ministers discussed how the work of the Coalition can be further pursued despite limitations in connection with COVID‑19. They addressed cooperation with the new Iraqi Government under Prime Minister al‑Kadhimi, as well as possible forms of Coalition support – military and especially civilian, to stabilise the country, focusing in particular on the areas liberated from IS, and to back up the process of political and economic reform.
Syria: Still no political process
A sustainable victory over IS and peace in Syria depend on reaching a political solution to the conflict, under the aegis of the United Nations in Geneva. Germany is actively supporting the efforts by the UN Special Envoy. Since the formation of the Syrian Constitutional Committee by the United Nations in October 2019, progress has again stalled owing to the Syrian regime’s obstructionist stance. Although IS no longer holds any territory, the terrorist organisation has gone underground and is still carrying out attacks. The Coalition continues to tackle IS, for example with air strikes. Germany is providing support for the Syrian population in the areas liberated from IS in order to prevent a resurgence of the terrorists and to give the people a prospect for the future. Here the priorities are to improve living conditions, increase inclusivity and participation, and conduct measures to deradicalise and reintegrate people who were influenced by the radical Islamic ideology of IS.
Continuing joint endeavours
In their joint communiqué, the Foreign Ministers stressed that the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS would continue its joint military and civilian measures in the fight against IS. In addition to efforts in Iraq and Syria, the intention is to prevent IS from spreading to other regions, such as the Sahel. Speaking prior to the meeting, Foreign Minister Maas emphasised that IS remained a strong threat:
Our joint international efforts to fight this terrorist organisation remain extremely important to us and must be maintained. We therefore want to continue to support the new Iraqi Government, both with this task and as it embarks on the important path of introducing the reforms necessary in Iraq.